Little Bengal in a Mumbai school (With Images)

January 2nd, 2012 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Mumbai, Jan 2 (IANS) It is a celebration of West Bengal! From traditional handicrafts to dresses to dances to cuisine — it’s a veritable tour de force through the state. Except for one little fact. You are not in West Bengal but hundreds of kilometres away in a Mumbai school.

In an effort to help its students develop a keen sense of understanding of the world, Children’s Academy, a school in Mumbai’s northwest Malad suburb, has embarked on a unique endeavour to study the diversity that is India.

Every two years, around 350 teachers and 10,000 students of the school’s three branches get together for a two-day extravaganza to explore an Indian state and celebrate its language, dress, customs, dance, art, geography and more. This time the state was West Bengal.

“First, we went on a trip to Kolkata and Darjeeling along with 100 students and teachers to get an idea of the culture of the state,” school director Rohit Bhat told IANS.

“The parents of Bengali students and teachers provided us all the information and guidance that we needed every now and then,” he added.

Over 800 students actively participated in the extravaganza last month by performing skits and dance-dramas and staging fashion shows. During the programme, students fluently used Bengali phrases and then repeated them in English for the better understanding of the audience.

Traditional Bengali dances like ‘Brotocharya’, ‘Dhanerkhet’, ‘Dhitam Dhitam’, ‘Pavan’, ‘Hriday Amar’, ‘Machwara’ and ‘Dhunuchi’ were performed by the students.

Bengali festivals like Durga Puja, Vasant Panchami and the ceremony of Anna Prassan — when a seven-month-old is given his or her first solid food — were also performed.

A traditional Bengali wedding was also staged many times during the two-day festival.

The school, decked up in traditional Bengali artwork, seemed breathtaking right from the entrance as teachers dressed in sarees and dhoti-kurtas greeted the parents of the students and other guests.

“We did not hire any outside help for the artwork across the school. Our 18 art teachers have worked hard to turn the school into West Bengal,” said Rohan Bhat, another director of the school.

Artefacts like replicas of mud huts with thatched roofs were also displayed in another part of the two-floored school building to give the look of rural Bengal.

Pure cotton, ‘Jamdani’ and ‘Katha’ stitch sarees and kurtas were also displayed to portray the traditional attire of the state. Masks from the Santhal region were awe-inspiring.

Pinal Vora, a 13-year-old student, prepared a unique model of the state’s geography, highlighting several famous spots of the state like Howrah Bridge, Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial, Belur Math and Vidyasagar Setu.

Posters and writeups on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher and religious reformer Swami Vivekanand, freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose and Mother Teresa were put up on the walls. Some children played these personalities in skits.

The extravaganza culminated in a fashion show that was performed five times on popular demand.

Children walked the ramp dressed like film personalities R.D. Burman, Shreya Ghoshal, Sharmila Tagore, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Sushmita Sen and Satyajit Ray amongst others.

The fashion show also portrayed famous Bengali personalities like swimmer Bula Chaudhary, writer Jhumpa Lahiri, cricketer Sourav Ganguly, politicians Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee, magician P.C. Sarkar and scientist J.C. Bose. Their roles and achievements were read out from backstage.

(Mauli Buch can be contacted at mauli.b@ians.in)

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